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The Urban Black Family of the Nineteenth Century: A Study of Black Family Structure in the Ohio Valley, 1850-1880

Paul J. Lammermeier
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 35, No. 3, Special Section: New Social History of the Family (Aug., 1973), pp. 440-456
DOI: 10.2307/350580
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/350580
Page Count: 17
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The Urban Black Family of the Nineteenth Century: A Study of Black Family Structure in the Ohio Valley, 1850-1880
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Abstract

This study of the black family structure in seven Ohio Valley cities is an effort to fill the void in historical literature on the origins of the present-day urban black family, especially the phenomenon of the lower-class "black matriarchy." Based on the manuscript census, all male- and female-headed families are compared with such demographic data as the age, sex, and family structures; size and number of children; and socioeconomic data of real estate ownership and occupations. The basic conclusions are twofold: (1) the urban black family structure during the nineteenth century was basically a two-parent, male-headed family that showed little evidence of retaining structural characteristics of the slave family, and (2) despite the increasing trend towards residential segregation, the only sign of a lessening of the two-parent family is a rise in the proportion of female-headed extended families.

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